DISD's Mike Miles Has Earned a Renewed Contract, One Bloody Fight at a Time

Categories: Schutze

tweed2.jpg
Thomas Nast, "The Arrest of Boss Tweed -- another good joke." Library of Congress
We're Americans. We know a good old-fashioned patronage machine when we see one, don't we?

The time escapes me. At least 20 years ago. I am seated outside the office of a prominent African-American clergyman in South Dallas waiting for an appointment that was to begin 45 minutes ago. The waiting is the South Dallas white man's tax. I knew all that before I showed up, and I will pay the tax, gladly, because I need to talk to this guy and this is the only way. This many years later I have no inkling what I was there to talk to him about. In that episode, as in much of my life, I only remember the eavesdropping.

His door was open. Look, I'm a reporter. It's like leaving a known cookie thief alone in the room with an open jar. You must want him to take one.

A young African-American woman is in there with him -- a teacher, as I am able to discern by leaning forward slightly and cupping my right ear, ignoring the glower of the nearby church secretary. The young lady in there with him wants the job of principal at the nearby elementary school.

The minister sounds like every smart boss I have ever had when I ask for something: Oh, she is doing a splendid job, and, yes, it is wonderful that she is so ambitious, but, no, sadly, this is not yet the time. Mizz So-and-So is still doing a fine job over there as principal, and she needs to be left alone a few more years until retirement. You do know she's the lead soloist in the church choir? When she retires the minister will seriously consider this fine young woman for the post.

I believe the online expression that would describe my reaction is WTF?! This minister hires, fires and promotes people at the nearby elementary school?

Years of reporting and talking to people gradually confirmed exactly that, and eventually I even came to understand why. It was an outcome and legacy of federal court desegregation in Dallas, a somewhat anomalous outcome compared with other cities, I think, although I guess I don't know that for sure: The hiring and firing of people working in schools in the of-color subdistrict of the Dallas school system was the private bailiwick of community leaders in southern Dallas, mainly clergy.

Until 2003 when a federal judge released Dallas schools from supervision, a court monitor reported to him every year on how well the school system was living up to his interim order and whether or not the minority community -- actually always the black community, even though the schools were already majority Hispanic -- was happy with how things were going.

The monitor checked with black elected officials. They reached back into their constituencies and checked with the effective political sub-units on the ground -- the churches. In this way the ministers derived effective hiring and firing power over school staffs in their neighborhoods.

Was this an unintended consequence, an accident, a political mishap of some kind? Absolutely not. It was the way things were supposed to work, ordered by the court and totally legitimate in terms of the intentions. No one would ever have questioned it, in fact, were it not such a massive failure.

Two years ago when the new school superintendent, Mike Miles, got here, what he found on the ground was a school system with an abysmal record of student achievement generally and an especially vicious record where certain sub-groups were concerned, notably black males. There, the record of the school district in preparing black boys for the future was best captured in the phrase invented by the Children's Defense Fund, "Cradle to Prison Pipeline."

That's a national slogan, by the way. In terms of outcomes, Dallas is by no means the Lone Ranger, and especially since Miles got here the district has made great strides. But the fact is that when Miles came to town, what he found was a deep-rooted system of jobs patronage in the South Dallas school system, stoutly defended by the people who benefited from it, all of whom believed and still believe that the system is theirs by right, a kind of political patrimony that they actually inherited as if it were land or shares in a company. Notice how many generations of the same family are involved in the district's latest athletic recruitment scandal. Some people in the black middle class in southern Dallas regard the school district almost as their own family business.

The first thing Miles did when he got here was take all of that apart. His approach was brilliant. He found the underpinnings of it in the way school feeder patterns matched the boundaries of the old black subdistrict left over from de-seg. He found the way the subdistrict's boundaries matched school trustee districts. He re-drew everything as if he were the League of Nations after World War I, abolishing some countries and creating new ones.

He also took the hiring and firing of principals entirely out of the hands of the churches and put it into a new system based on an OCS-like leadership academy. And he fired the person who had been the de facto superintendent of the minority sub-district. More recently, Miles succeeded in getting the board to adopt the most comprehensive merit-pay system for teachers in the country -- the final nail in the coffin for the old patronage system.

Along the way, not surprisingly, the old southern Dallas political machinery made common cause with the teachers unions and tried and failed to get Miles fired. They did manage to claw back a good deal of his compensation and to vacate an automatic renewal clause in his contract.

Please don't give me some wide-eyed thing about, "How could black leaders oppose a person who is working to improve the destinies of black children?" Oh give me a break. It's about jobs and economic survival for some, power and glory for others. My immigrant grandfather was a self-made man: I don't remember him shedding too many tears for the poor children left back in the German slums of St. Louis. People think about Number One and their own families. Miles went right after a whole bunch of number ones, and they fought back. I think it's called human nature.

Now Miles is in the process of trying to win back some of what was gouged from him, specifically a contract renewal and the right to earn money on the side as a consultant. Today on The Dallas Morning News opinion blog, under the headline, "Too early to be talking to DISD Supt. Mike Miles about a raise," editorial writer Tod Robberson paints Miles as being just a little bit too grabby. "He wants the school board to give him a raise before he's demonstrated that his structural and administrative changes are leading to improved student performance," Robberson writes.

I understand Robberson's point, but it's a perspective that ignores or is totally unaware of the underlying realities, almost like saying after the successful invasion of Normandy in World War II, "Oh, well, we won't be able to declare Eisenhower the victor until we see whether the German economy recovers after the war."

The fact is that Miles is already an enormous success, having wrought more real change in the landscape than the last half dozen of his predecessors. Of course the people whose ox was gored have been after his head, and of course the battle has not been bloodless. With the magnitude of change he has been able to wreak, bloodshed is just a part of the deal.

We're already way ahead for his tenure so far. If Miles lost his patience and walked out of here tomorrow, his successor would find a landscape in which the old patronage machinery has been totally disassembled, where new state-of-the-art machinery is in place to cut that cradle to prison pipeline into pieces and replace it with a conveyor belt to the future for every kid in the system.

Sure, we can continue to ding him and pluck at him and try to wear him out, but stop for one split-second and consider this: Who do you think is really behind the campaign to bring him low? Why would we help them?

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85 comments
EdD.
EdD.

Is Tod Robberson just naturally wrong about everything, like a compass that points southeast while telling you it's pointing north, or does he have to work at it?

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim Schutze, I challenge you to show that Mike Miles, as of this year, has not had seven school years in a row wherein 12th grade enrollment deteriorated compared with the previous year! In both districts, Harrison and DISD, 12th grade enrollment had been growing for at least 2 years before Miles arrived.  Then growth stopped.


During the first years Miles was Harrison School District Two Superintendent the 12th grade enrollment grew nicely at about 5% a year.  Then such progress suddenly stopped when the enrollment for the Class of 2009 grew only 1/2 of a percentage point.  That is year one of these 7 years.


Then the Class of 2010 enrollment dropped 7%, the Class of 2011 dropped 18%, the Class of 2012 dropped 11%, and the Class of 2013 dropped 12%.  By that time Miles was in Dallas and the count is up to five school years.  (We will count the Class of 2013 in both Harrison and Dallas as they both were certainly influenced by Mike Miles.)


In Dallas we had been enjoying average annual increases in 12th grade enrollment of over 3% for 5 years.  The graduation rate had risen over 20 percentage points by the Class of 2013! But the first year Mr. Miles was in DISD the enrollment for the Class of 2013 rose less than 8/10th of a percent, the lowest percentage growth in 6 years!  The progress stopped!  The next year the enrollment for the Class of 2014 dropped 6%!  This was the largest 12th grade year to year enrollment drop for Dallas ISD in decades!   (Will DISD continue to follow Harrison numbers?)


Who thinks these seven years showing 12th grade enrollment deterioration like this in two different districts is an accident that has nothing to do with Miles management?


See http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2013/05/damage-by-mike-miles-in-colorado.html 
for the Colorado Data, 
and http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2014/06/2014-dallas-isd-graduation-rate-numbers.html 
for the Dallas data.


kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

Mike Miles must be SUPER patient, or have something to prove.....why would you live here if you could live in Colorado, and make more money somewhere else!? You would see the flames of destiny propelling my ass, as I leave this terrible, mismanaged district. 

blevy6
blevy6

I suggest that Mike MIles tests the market.  If there is an equivalent district out there that is willing to meet his demands maybe then--and only then--should Dallas consider making a counter offer. Breaking up entrenched interests is one thing.  Actually improving education above and beyond statistical sleight-of-hand is quite another.  MIles has yet to demonstrate significant inroads when it comes to student performance.  What he has demonstrated is a tin ear, an arrogant managerial style, and an ability to alienate and drive away talented educators.    

bbetzen
bbetzen

"The fact is that Miles is already an enormous success, having wrought more real change in the landscape than the last half dozen of his predecessors."


Amazing! We have a new superintendent who is able to hire totally new administrative teams, twice!, and change almost everything inside the district, but not really show any overall student improvement, instead achieving what is probably the smallest graduation class in 5 years within 24 months of starting the job, and he is "already an enormous success." 


I wonder what a failure would have been?   (Hint, notice that he twice had to hire people for each position on the administrative team that works directly with him due to frequent resignations.)


The last year in Harrison his teacher turnover was 35% while all the surrounding districts only had turnover less than half that rate.  It appears he is now getting near that 35% in DISD.  Does that add to his "success?"

EricCeleste
EricCeleste

You made me read Robberson. Imma shank you in your sleep old man.

titusgroan
titusgroan

Mike Miles - He takes a licking and keeps on ticking.


I am officially rooting for this guy.


What else you got, Dallas?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

It's one reason why Blacks are giving Republicans a second look.  Get control of the borders.

White Democrats are switching horses.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

I never worry about stuff like Bill Marvel's concern that Miles may be "part of the whole education-as-product mindset." Not how my brain works. I am more likely to think, "What if I totally agree with him and everything he's doing, and then he zips off his skin and he's a lizard from another planet?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

It's an exciting time for DISD. Miles has laid the groundwork for massive improvements. I'm optimistic and looking forward to seeing the graduation rates and STAAR test results creep ever upward.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

I'd be ever so more comfortable about our superintendent, Jim, if I were sure he isn't part of the whole education-as-product mindset that seems to be taking over schools. The massive testing -- a legacy of Taylorism -- the curriculum "standards," the push for automated learning all suggest programming, not education, graduating classes of robots ready to be plugged into the great industrial machine.

I recognize that kids have to be able to look forward to jobs. But that's only one part of an education. Nazi Germany provided abundant jobs and efficiently trained its children for those jobs.     

incephalon
incephalon

@bbetzen @bbetzen Bill, I challenge you to look into statistics that matter. Why is 12th grade enrollment your chosen metric? Is it because it's the only negative in Miles' record in Colorado? Is it because Harrison's achievement stats (the ones that matter) during Miles' tenure show overwhelmingly positive outcomes?


How can you possibly believe 12th grade enrollment/graduation is the most useful statistic you can point out when you yourself have admitted that graduation rates are the most easily manipulated stat in education? 


How is it responsible to fight for open data transparency at the district when you yourself cherry pick and present only data that supports your cause?


You have lost your way. 

roo_ster
roo_ster

@holmantx 

BHO and the entirety of the DNC could set up a temple to Moloch on the front lawn of the White House and start burning black infants alive as sacrifices to Moloch...and the black community would still vote Democrat to the tune of 90%.


Just keep that welfare honey flowing and phony-baloney make-work gov't jobs multiplying and they can immolate all the black babies they want.  "Cradle to Prison Pipeline" might as well be call the "Cradle to Future's Immolation Pileline."

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@JimSX Just keep tossing him bugs, Jim.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bmarvel

And the enlightened French never even put up a fight.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel Someone wiser than I coined the phrase, "You can't improve what you don't measure." If your argument is that standardized testing is a wrong-headed approach, how would you propose we measure how effectively schools are teaching? Also, how is having educational standards a bad thing? Students must learn certain things in certain academic disciplines in order to not only go to college, but to function in the world. Math, Science, Reading, Writing etc. They all must be taught effectively to a point. I just don't understand your POV on this.

zac.crain1
zac.crain1

@bmarvel One comment, and we already get to Nazi Germany. Unparalleled work, Bill.

bbetzen
bbetzen

@incephalon @bbetzen  Enrollment numbers are the hardest numbers to manipulate and that is why I focus on them.  12th grade enrollment tells you the truth about graduation rates with rare exceptions!  That 84% graduation rate claim for the DISD Class of 2013 is the stretch that is an example of the manipulation I speak of.  However, using the hard enrollment numbers that I speak of the true percentage of full 9th grade enrollment 3.5 years earlier that was represented in the graduation class of 2013 was over 62%! That is a VERY BIG improvement from the 40.5% number in 2007!   Those numbers have consistently gone down under Mike Miles.


Also, I strongly recommend you study the STAAR test results this year and compare them with last year and explain how Miles is your hero.

https://mydata.dallasisd.org/docs/STAAR2014/2014_STAAR_38_AD1_PERCENT_LVL2_FP_C.pdf  is the link on the DISD Data Portal web site to the past two years of progress by feeder pattern that clearly shows how Destination 2020 has been significantly less than successful.  (Note: summer maintenance may shut this site down.  I have copies of this and other reports if that is needed due to this maintenance.)


Note especially pages 30 and 82 in this multi-page report that summarize Lincoln and Pinkston feeder patterns.   It is no accident that those supporting Mike Miles are not speaking about recent academic performance in DISD.  Documentation of worsening achievement overwhelms any documentation of growing achievement in DISD.


As staff turnover continues to increase, before trustees consider any contract extension they should get the classroom effectiveness indices (CEI) for those teachers leaving and compare it with those who remain.   This will provide some indication of the massive talent DISD is loosing due to current management downgrading of the professional status of teachers.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bvckvs @CogitoErgoSum You don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about. Do you think the TEI was just a lark that Miles thought would be fun? It is directly aimed at improving teacher performance and rewarding it with pay increases.


Please continue to talk out of your ass -- it's amusing.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@holmantx @bmarvel I can't imagine, holman, what the French have to do with any of this. It's not an example I would have picked. (French education, by the way, is lock-step in the extreme.)

Perhaps you have in mind the 18th-century "Enlightenment," which was, I guess, partly a French phenomenon. I don't get the connection with modern education reform.  But I suspect you'll enlighten us.



bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel I'm all for testing, Cog. I've tested (as a teacher)and been tested (as a student). Testing is useful. But it is not the purpose of education, and it measures the success of education only imperfectly.

You'll notice, if you go back and reread, that I referred specifically to curriculum standards. But since you seem to want to expand the discussion -- Standards would be fine if we had something like a "standard" student. We don't and never will, this side of cloning. I think expectations is a more realistic word. 

I think we can realistically expect that students be able to read, say, a novel,a history, a poem with comprehension by the time they  get out of school.They should be able to perform basic mathematical operations, have a grasp of science. They should be familiar with their country and its history and traditions. They should have had an opportunity to participate in one of the arts and in some vigorous physical activity. At least a start toward some foreign language. These are not "standards"; they are simply what we should expect of a public school diploma. Not all will reach all these goals. Not all the testing in the world will fix that. Neither will "standards."

Standards are rigid, inflexible, a consequence of the No Child Left Behind creed. (Left behind whom? when?)  Standards are what people invoke when they forget children are human beings, to be educated by other human beings, not machines to be taught by other machines. 



bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@zac.crain1 @bmarvel only because Nazi Germany provides a useful illustration from time to time, zac. But if you can think of a better one, welcome to it.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bmarvel @holmantx

Egalitarianism will get your country taken from you.  And if you are brought up, indoctrinated, in an educational environment which promotes such nonsense (as are the French), that society will need the Eritreans and Ethiopians to man the 7-11s, the Mexicans to work in all the construction trades, and Patels to operate the retail.  If it is true that in 2007 the DISD graduated less than 50% of its ninth graders, WHERE ARE THEY?  You cannot even get into the military without a high school diploma, much less do anything more complicated than infantry.

If you don’t demand assimilation and allegiance to a common language and patriotism, you get your country taken from you like we did Texas once we reached critical mass.  And today, we are in reverse.

Competition and free enterprise is what produced American Exceptionalism.  And that has to be taught and sworn to like a Bible - as our Constitution holds the individual over, and superior to, the collective.  For it is NOT the individual that is exceptional, it is our system of governance which has wrought this miracle we call America.  We are in a very dark place and you guys are applying feng shui to the deck chairs on the fantail of the Titanic!

Look around you.  Do you see it?  The Center for Immigration Studies released a report, a tome, Friday a week ago showing illegal and legal immigrants have accounted for all of the job growth in the United States since 2000. That even though native-born Americans accounted for two-thirds of the growth in the total working-age population since 2000, the number of native-born Americans with jobs declined by 127,000.  Where are they?  How are they feeding themselves?  Much less clothing and domicile?

And are these natural born Americans still willing to fight?  I realize you are easily offended but this planet remains a dangerous one for societies which cannot or will not work, and that starts with education, my man.  And the President has thrown open the borders, ostensibly as a political maneuver to collapse the Red state, and we are ground zero.  But it’s suicide.

Democracy never lasts long; it soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.  There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”-––John Adams

There are 7 billion people on this planet and 6.5 billion would like to be here.  And they will come.

And we are inviting them to eat us alive.

And they will.

ROFLCopter
ROFLCopter

@bmarvel That kind of thinking is totally undeterred by reality.  In the big boy pants adult word, very few employers will accept this type of thing.  They expect results done their way.  If you can't hack it you can't keep the job.  

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel @zac.crain1 But does it, really? Often, the mere mention of "Nazi Germany" or "Hitler" elicits an immediate emotional response that prompts people to think negatively about whatever it is being compared to, thereby bolstering the user's argument.This is why it's often derided as a shortcut to a well-formed argument. My question, however, is can you prove that the German educational system was inferior in some way to other nations at the time? I admit I don't know much about the subject, and I'm sure there was abundant Nazi propaganda/indoctrination in schools. Aside from that, were the Germans successful in educating children on core curriculum? That should be the crux of the matter.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bvckvs @CogitoErgoSum Oh, now I get it: anyone who disagrees with you is throwing a "tantrum." Can you actually address opposing comments, without accusing me or others of a "tantrum"?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@holmantx "There are 7 billion people on this planet and 6.5 billion would like to be here.  And they will come."


Utter nonsense.


The VAST MAJORITY of people on planet earth live their entire lives content in the fact that they have no desire to come to, much less reside in, the U$A.



bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@holmantx You're rambling, holman.  But it's Saturday and I guss you must ride your hobby horse.


John Adams, by the way, was instrumental in passage of the Alien and Sedition Act. So be careful whom you quote.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ROFLCopter @bmarvel Most employers that I've dealt with, Copter, just want a competently educated, motivated worker. That means the ability to read, write, do math. Good work habits. For the rest, they prefer to do the fine-grain training themselves, because every company, every job, does things a little differently.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with lock-step "standards."  Standards and all they entail -- teaching to the test, a rigid curriculum, etc. -- are a substitution for an education system that no longer works because that system gave up on educating many years ago and settled for training.

All of which leaves the larger question, Copter: How do you "train" for citizenship?


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum The core curriculium in a democracy, Cog, is education for citizenship, not just for the assembly line.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Dallas County today announces they will set up a receiving area for 2000 motherless kids. what kind of dynamic exists where mothers ship their children alone to us? 50,000 since October.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel @ROFLCopter Your argument (if it can be called that) lacks substance and a suggested solution. It mostly sounds as if you are lobbing insults at a soul-crushing educational system right out of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." That's nice if you're trying to sell records to adolescents rebelling against conformity, but I think we can agree that public education, when done well, is a benefit to society.


You say standards are good but then say they are not because there is no "standard" student. So what are you proposing instead of the current system of standards and testing?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bvckvs @CogitoErgoSum  From now on, I'll just count on being called "tantric" by you (your word). I'll consider it a compliment, coming from the wise and learned Bucky.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@holmantx ... the kind of dynamic where the U$ foreign policy in Central American for the past half-century has caused nothing but pain, suffering and civil strife for the innocent civilians who live there.


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum Cog -- as an eyewitness to the crazed 1960s-70s, I had some taste of Pink Floyd and adolescent rebellion. So I am not by any stretch of your imagination against a rigorous education, public or otherwise.

What  am opposed to is a rigid education -- and there is a huge difference. 

My proposal is to use testing as a means, not an end. And that we replace "standards" drawn up by Big Ed for-propfit corporations and bureaucrats with intelligent expectations. Unfortunately, expectations don't lend themselves to easy bottom-line calculations, statistical lint-gathering, or glib blog-comments. 


bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel Cog -- Never using the Nazis as an example makes no more sense than always using them. If you can think of a better example of a school system that produced busy little worker bees and failed to educate citizens, welcome to it.

My comment, above, means just what it says. Educating for jobs is never enough, not if you want to keep a functioning democracy.  (Works fine in a totalitarian state, though.) American public schools were conceived right from the start as a means of educating citizens. Especially vital in a nation of immigrants committed to democracy.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @holmantx

And there he is.  The demographic the President has been waiting for.  Sancho on his jack-ass proudly asserting he won't stand up because America had it coming.  There's a documentary about to be released covering this very subject.

“We answer the central moral challenge of America’s critics, which is that America’s greatness is based on theft, plunder and oppression.”

Interviewees describing the USA as “the new evil empire” and a “predatory colonial power” as well as referring to Mount Rushmore as “a symbol of oppression and genocide to our people.”

And it's got to be true.  It's taught in the schools.  And this jack-ass is the manifestation of it.

Welcome to your brave new world.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum Still nonsense. By educating children in various disciplines and encouraging them to pursue their passions/dreams (which is what teachers should be doing- and the best actually do), we have citizens that can aspire to the highest civic calling, or not, regardless of whther we use standards and testing as a cornerstone. You're sounding a bit paranoid here -- as if there's a dark conspiracy to manufacture mindless automatons (see Pink Floyd's "Another Brick").


Also, you may be a bit out of touch with online discussion culture, so let me clue you in -- the minute you drop "Nazi" or "Hitler," your argument has lost intellectual credibility with many of us because it is often used, as I said above, as a hyperbolic ploy that works on an emotional trigger. Further, it is trite and unimaginative. Read about Godwin's Law here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@holmantx @DonkeyHotay It's not taught in the schools. Students still stand for the pledge and are taught about how great this country is. That's all fine (though I wish they'd eliminate the pledge), but just as it is for people, so it should be for nations: "The unexamined life is not worth living." When we reflect, there's much to be ashamed of and much self-improvement to be done.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel  "Pragmatism is like a warm bath that heats up so imperceptibly that you don"t know when to scream." -- Bertrand Russell

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel Fine.Dictatorships and totalitarian regimes can be very practical if you have the stomach for them, Cog. You're not the only one here who's perfectly comfortable with that vision of our future.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum Fine. As I said, Cog, come up with your own non-Nazi example.

Online discussion culture is as artificial and unnatural as the rules for a 17th century minuet. Very little discussion actually gets done here,you'll notice. And things are written that wouldn't get you by in an old fashioned face-to-face.

If "educating children in various disciplines and encouraging them to pursue their passions/dreams" were what is happening in public schools we wouldn't be having this exchange, Cog. Go out and talk to some teachers. Then come back, and we'll talk.


holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @holmantx @DonkeyHotay

Yes, it's taught in the schools.

And you have merely not been properly motivated.  At the moment of truth you will hesitate.  An ignorant opponent, or a highly motivated one, will not.  A strict vegetarian is only three days away from tearing raw flesh with his or her teeth.  Sooner, if water is cut off.

"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.' " – George Orwell, Partisan Review (1942), of Great Britain's pacifists.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum


"America is at that awkward stage.  It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.  On the road to tyranny, we've gone so far that polite political action is about as useless as a miniskirt in a convent."
 -- Claire Wolfe, 101 Things To Do 'Til The Revolution

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum On getting into hot water, see my Bertrand Russell quote above, Cog.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum There's that paranoid streak the Tea Party/Libertarians rely upon for their very existence. Yes, we're absolutely teetering on the brink of a totalitarian regime. Hell, we might already be in one and we don't even know it, right? That's how they get you -- like a frog in a slowly heating pot of water.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum I am a teacher, and it's not my responsibility to come up with your examples for you. The Nazis are simply not a good example, for two reasons: 1. the unproven assumption that the Nazis had it wrong, in terms of education theory, and 2. the fact that the analogy is intellectually weak and tainted by a stigma that eleicits an emotional response.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @holmantx @DonkeyHotay

""I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am (cogito ergo sum)".

further:

"so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the skeptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search"

Descartes argued that empirical evidence is insubstantial, but one's own existence is certain, because in order to think you must be. From this first principle, his reason deduced, in no more than the turning of a page, that God exists and that truth lies in clear conception. - Rene Descartes - Born 1596, died 1650 French philosopher. One of the founders of European rationalism.  The Latin phrase cogito ergo sum, or "I think, therefore I am" meaning "I doubt, therefore I know", is possibly the single widest-known philosophical statement, and is due to Rene Descartes.

This does not hold intellectual water in the construction and maintenance of a Nation.

ask the French.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel


Argument from fallacy is the formal fallacy of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false.



bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum If you want to see where impolite political action will get you, Donkey, take a good hard look at the Middle East right now. We have our own political Shias and Sunnis right here online. Cultural wars precede shooting wars.

I have the deepest contempt for those who blithely talk revolution. If you're so eager to fertilize the tree of liberty, dump your manure in somebody else's yard. Real revolutions -- as opposed to the parlor kind -- lead to the real deaths of real people. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum You're argument is that the Nazis may have had it right? And you're teaching our kids???

What subject  are you teaching?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

France would not exist but for the United States of America.

and America in fact and in deed (the concept - American Exceptionalism) would not exist but for France.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bmarvel ... so continue to cower in fear whilst whining online about that which you lack the courage to attempt to change in reality.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

Someone failed you as a teacher because it would appear you're lacking in critical thinking skills. Please demonstrate - without appealing to emotion or insinuating that I am sympathetic to fascism - that nazi-era educators were less effective at teaching than their counterparts in other nations. Think real hard, now.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@holmantx


HipTip: if France hadn't aided the American Revolutionaries, you'd still be singing God Save the King


hth.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@holmantx Nice Wikipedia copy and paste. Ramble on, my daft friend, ramble on. Do you often stroke your firearms lovingly while saluting the flag?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum Cog --

Critical thinking is an indispensable skill in citizens of a democracy. Do you think all those future cogs in the Nazi war machine came out of the German school system prepared to understand their history, much less think critically about theor future? People are dazzled by German technical skills. (They needn't be; the Brits invented radar. We built the Bomb.) One trains students for technical skills; one educates them to be critical thinkers.

This is not an either-or situation. Skilled workers, even semi-skilled workers, can read, understand and think critically. Why, then, do we have a society in which more than half of our citizens think evolution is a fairy-tale? Why is there so little critical thinking about climate change, gun laws? 

For a couple years I taught college students -- future journalists!! -- some of whom had no idea who fought in World War II, much less what caused the war.  Who could not analyse a headline, write a clear paraqraph.(Some could; it was the pre-test, pre standards generation)

What were Nazi teachers so damned effective in teaching, Cog? That vast transnational land-grabs were an example of fatal hubris? That they and their fathers were not supermen?

If we train the most brilliant work force on earth -- and we are very, very far from that, Cog -- and fail to educate clear thinkers, informed citizens fr a democratic society, then we have no future as a democracy, and if we have no future as a democracy, we have no future as a society.

How will intensive testing and a standard "curricuum" fix that?

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

You still haven't demonstrated the aptitude of your analogy. The fact that state propaganda was effective at the time (in a pre-digital era) does not mean education was somehow lacking in 1930s-40s Germany.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @bmarvel Mr.Jefferson, the one who talked about watering the tree of liberty with blood, talked and wrote a good game of revolution, Donkey. The actual revolution, when it came, found him ensconced in the governor's mansion in Richmond (albeit with a price on his head). As the Brits drew close, he fled for his life. He never fired a shot. And when the revolution broke out in France, he was shaken to his core, appalled by all that blood shed.

That's the thing about revolutions, Donkey. It's in their nature that if you participate you have to kill other people., and you might be killed yourself. 

Soooo brave to blog about. As long as you don't actually have to do it.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum I think our conversation has run its course, Cog. 

How can I possibly show that an educational system that failed to inoculate its students against Nazi propaganda  was, by definition, a failure, if we don't agree on definitions?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bmarvel ... silly fool, the philosophers, Bourgeoisie, politicians and intelligentsia never actually fight for the wars or revolutions they foment, that's the job of the proletariat.


CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum Millions of highly educated and intelligent people have embraced jingoism in many countries in the past century. Your position -- that a faulty German educational system led directly to this -- is, at the very least, extremely difficult for you to support. Comparing said system to Americas is hyperbole. This is our concern, dude.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bmarvel @CogitoErgoSum


Control the Rhetoric = Frame the "Argument" = Win the Debate


hth

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay So whicxh are you, Donkey? Intelligentsia or proletariat? Will you be shooting or running?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @bmarvel My goodness, Cog. Are you still out here shouting in the dark? It's almost 10, and the neighbors are watching.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bmarvel ... if you have to ask, then you're Frontline Infantry material 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @bmarvel Just as I thought, Donkey. Another parlor revolutionary. Real revolutionaries are organizing, agitating, not playing games on some blogsite. I'm sorry I took you seriously.

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